Butternut Soup with Pears, Cider and Vanilla

This slightly unusual soup was thanks to Molly Wizenberg's delightful book, A Homemade Life,  which we are currently reading for Cook the Books Club.  I have been trying various of her recipes, this soup being the latest.  What a fantastic concoction of flavors -  golden butternut with pears, cream and vanilla, a hint of apple cider and my duck stock backing everything nicely.

For Daring Cooks this month our goal was to make stock and then a soup.  Peta, of the blog Peta Eats, was our lovely hostess for the Daring Cook’s September 2011 challenge, “Stock to Soup to Consommé”. We were taught the meaning between the three dishes, how to make a crystal clear Consommé if we so chose to do so, and encouraged to share our own delicious soup recipes!

I made a flavorful stock from Sunday dinner's roasted duck carcass, with added aromatics, carrots, celery and onion.  After chilling the broth and removing all fat, I reduced it by quite a bit, then went on, days later after numerous attempts at gathering together the various ingredients, to this soup.  Finally.  But, well worth the effort.  Since I do make stock on a regular basis, I should have done the clear Consommé thing with an egg white raft and all.  But, truthfully it just did not call out to me.

Butternut Soup with Pears, Cider and Vanilla
From A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 lbs. butternut squash (mine was 4 lbs. so I had to cut it in half), peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes (about 4 generous cups)
2 firm-ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup apple cider or unfiltered apple juice
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth (I used duck)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup half-and-half or cream
1 vanilla bean
Finely chopped fresh chives, for garnish

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or small stockpot over medium-low heat.  Add the squash, pears, and onion and stir to coat with oil.  Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and transparent and the pears are starting to fall apart.
      Add the cider and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add the broth, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, partially covered, for about 30 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
      Using a blender or food processor and working in small batches - don't fill your blender jar more than 1/3 full; hot liquids expand - puree until very smooth.  Return the soup to the stockpot and add the salt.  Continue to cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat, until the soup has reduced to about 1/2 to 1/3 the original volume.  Stir occasionally.  The final consistency is up to you; when it reaches a thickness that seems right - it's ready.
     While the soup is reducing, put the cream in a small saucepan.  Using a sharp knife, split the vanilla bean in half from tip to tip.  Using the back of your knife, scrape the tiny black seeds out of the pod.  Scoop the seeds and the pod into the pan with the cream and warm it over low heat, swirling occasionally, until it steams.  Do not allow it to boil.  Pull off the heat, remove and discard the pod and whisk to break up any clumps of seeds.  Set aside.
      When the soup has reduced to your desired thickness, stir in the infused cream or half-and-half.  Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
      Serve, garnished with a sprinkling of fresh chives.

Yield: 4 - 5 servings

A truly delicious and unique assemblage of compatible flavors.  I think the duck base note went exceptionally well here.  Duck does have a traditional pairing with fruits in cooking, with good reason.  Definitely a do it again recipe. I'm sharing this with Souper Sundays, hosted each week by fellow Hawaiian blogger, Deb of Kahakai Kitchen.


My name is Andy. said...

What an unusual (at least to me) flavour combination. I think I might like to try this!

Audax said...

I just love the flavour profile it sings to me I LOVE it great job on this challenge. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Swathi said...

Sweet and tangy soup with pears butternut and cider I am enjoying.

Jo said...

This is going on the lsit for soups to make this fall, what a great sounding and good looking soup!

Deb in Hawaii said...

I wondered about this soup when I saw it. It is just autumn in a bowl. ;-) Thanks so much for sharing it with Souper Sundays--always a pleasure to have you join in, and I can't wait to see your CTB choice. ;-)

Joanne said...

What a GORGEOUS soup! I'm starting to cook with butternut squash again and i love it paired with vanilla!

janet @ the taste space said...

I made this last year and loved it. It was hen I discovered how wonderful vanilla was in savoury dishes. :)

Glad to hear you made it so early in the season. :)

tigerfish said...

That's a creamy soup with depths from the pears, cider and vanilla.

Shaheen said...

Thank you so much for your lovely comment on my blog Claudia. Its lovely to make your acquaintance too.

Your soup flavours seem unusual to me too, but i like unusual.

Red said...

This soup looks a bit odd but very tasty. And I'm impressed that you made your own stock. That whole process intimidates me.

sophiesfoodiefiles said...

Oooh Claudia!
What a festive & mouthwatering soup! I love every flavor in here! Another must make of yours!